Dismayed by the letter from the Ministry Mr. Appa contacted the Home for Human Rights (HHR) for assistance and the Legal Desk undertook pro bono legal representation on his behalf. Mr. Appa filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for writs of certiorari and mandamus less than a month later to compel the Ministry to release the Rs. 30,000 for the completion of his home’s construction. The petition argued the Ministry’s denial was arbitrary and unfair due to Mr. Appa’s “legitimate expectation” that the funds could be withdrawn for the construction of a permanent home. Claiming a legitimate expectation in opposition to the Ministry’s letter of denial would be a new application of this legal concept for the Sri Lankan court, but the claim has been well developed within English law, which the Sri Lankan courts will often refer to as a persuasive but not binding source when considering such a case of first instance.
Further support of Mr. Appa claim then came from an unexpected revelation. Documents filed with the Court of Appeals by the Ministry showed the prior sitting President authorized the “self help” scheme, allocated Rs. 125 million for the Ministry’s budget, and these funds had in fact been deposited into individual savings accounts at the Bank. However, between the first and second letters writing by Mr. Appa to the Ministry, the subsequent President decided at the end of 2004 to reallocate the funds for other “self help” schemes in the form of government loans rather than grants. Acting on this directive the Ministry requested the Bank to close the personal savings accounts and remit the entire Rs. 125 million back to the Treasury. This request was carried out with no authorization sought from the individual account holders and without any notice to the plantation workers either before or after the decision to revoke the previously granted assistance.
Posted By Adam Nord (Sri Lanka)
Posted Feb 3rd, 2008